The story of Rotterdam Airlines is an exciting one. A record company that understood internet and used this medium to become a big success story. The combined clips of their Hip-Hop and R&B roster have several 100 million views on their official YouTube channel. One of the founders and CEO, Luciano Winter talks to VIRPP about the origins of the company, success and what he looks for in new talent.
How did Rotterdam Airlines get started?
“In 2009, my brother Jairzinho and I started the label. He was already a musician and I had my own foundation, where I helped kids get started into the music & culture business. I also supported my brother with his music career and that morphed into me being his manager. What happened next, happened naturally. Other artists and producers saw what we were doing and became part of our little group. It was only logical that we should name our new band of brothers. The name Rotterdam Airlines came from our tongue in cheek idea that we were the fly guys of Rotterdam. The funny thing was that everybody wanted to be famous but nobody had any idea how to achieve that. There was no plan but every artist had this fire, this passion and we truly believed one day all our dreams would come true. Rotterdam Airlines was a local hype until somewhere around 2015 when the song Ma3lish ft. Frenna & D-Double from Sevn Alias was released. That one attained gold status very quickly and after that it was off to the races.”
One of the releases that made Rotterdam Airlines a household name was the project Gate 16
“That one put us even further on the map. In 2016, we released Gate 16, an album where we presented our roster on one release. We rented a recording studio in Amsterdam, got all of our artists together and made something really cool. Going in, we all knew that this was a big step with big consequences. Everybody around us was saying; you guys are crazy spending that kind of money. Despite all that, my gut feeling was that this would be the thing that will put Rotterdam Airlines on the map. The gamble paid out big time and Gate 16 became a massive hit. The track Gass ft. Jason Futuristic, BKO & Jairzinho van Sevn was the most viewed Dutch langue music videoclip on YouTube. Next to that every other track on that album became a hit. We even won an Edison (the Dutch Grammy Award) for Gate 16. When we started, the old guard in the music industry told us it was not possible to get your own record company and it would be easier just to sign to a label. I grew up with internet and we used that to make our dream called Rotterdam Airlines come true.”
How do you look for new talent?
“To be honest, Jairzinho and I have our fingers on the pulse when it comes to undiscovered talent. We are interested in all facets of business, so we see and hear lots of new things. Like every other label, Rotterdam Airlines also uses a demo box – a place where artists and producers can drop their beats or songs. During the pandemic, lots of people submitted stuff and not all was that good. So, it is quite a challenge to filter out that gem because of the sheer amounts of demos. For me, emotions play a critical role when it comes to music. So, demos need to speak to me. I need to get that special feeling, that connection. If that hasn’t happened during the first listen, it will never happen.”
Rotterdam Airlines is the newest partner of VIRPP. What are your thoughts on the platform?
“It is a very interesting concept. The cool thing for our label is that VIRPP is a platform that brings everything together. It is very accessible and easy to filter out the good stuff. You don’t have to go through thousands of demos. There is already a selection made by the community and at the push of a button you can contact the new talent. It also looks like fun and for sure is going to save us lots of time.”
Are you looking for the next big thing on VIRPP or that artist/producer that you can mentor into someone that fits your roster?
“Both are welcome. Rotterdam Airlines is known for our talent development programs, so I am looking forward to what kind of submissions we will get to our first remix competitions.”
Do you have any advice for starting artists or producers?
“There is only one you, so be yourself. We are not looking for a new version of something that is already there. We are looking for the unique new. The world is ready and waiting for new artists that will surprises them. Be that kind of an artist.”